(Photo credit: Philip N. Cohen)

Editor’s Note: This is a guest column submitted in response to an Ithaca Voice article published earlier this week, “Cayuga power plant, county’s biggest taxpayer, faces closure without new approval.”

The guest column was written by Mark Witmer, a council person for the town of Caroline. 

As always, we welcome alternative or dissenting viewpoints. To do so, contact me at jstein@ithacavoice.com.

— Jeff Stein

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Written by Mark Witmer:

Thank you for a very informative article on the fate of the Cayuga Power Plant. This is such a critical decision for our community, our state, and the direction of energy policy overall. I know there are differences of opinion about fossil fuel use, but based on the facts and merits here, wow, it looks like we have a clear path forward here – a very good path. NYSEG has determined that a very economical upgrade to 14 miles of transmission lines near Auburn – necessary in any scenario – completely solves the energy-demand challenge faced by the Public Service Commission. Here we have an efficient, effective solution that builds our energy infrastructure, with economic and environmental factors aligned.

It would be fantastic if natural gas was a viable solution for responsible energy generation, but the many downsides of current natural gas supplies are well documented, including the science showing that methane leakage makes natural gas as bad or worse than coal in generating greenhouses gases. Gas is not a bridge to anywhere we want to go. Regarding the feasibility of renewable energy sources, a recently study has shown that New York could provide all of its energy needs with existing renewable technologies by 2030 (http://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/NewYorkWWSEnPolicy.pdf). Let’s go!

I totally empathize with the local communities faced with loss of tax revenue, but should we pursue policies to build tax revenues that don’t serve the best interests of the community at large? Maybe we can do something that does indeed do that! Consider the mothballed Moran Power Plant on Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont (moranplant.org). That plant is being transformed into a community – cultural – recreational center that builds on the strengths of the locale and will be the pride of Burlington. This inspiring plan improves public access to the lake front, as well as lake waters, including the construction of a sailing center. Let’s make sure that the next step we take is truly constructive at both a local and global level.


Mark Witmer
Councilperson, Town of Caroline

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Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.